Information

Scottish Health Survey 2013 - volume 1: main report

Presents results for the 2013 Scottish Health Survey, providing information on the health and factors relating to health of people living in Scotland.

This document is part of a collection


6 Physical Activity

Stephen Hinchliffe

SUMMARY

Child activity levels

  • In 2013, when school-based activities were accounted for, 75% of children were active at the recommended level of at least 60 minutes a day every day.
  • Boys (78%) remain more likely than girls (72%) to meet the guideline.
  • With the exception of 2012, the 2008-2013 period saw a steady increase (from 71% to 75%), in the percentage of children meeting the guideline when school-based activities were included. The longer-term trend excluding school-based activities and dating back to 1998 has seen more fluctuation.
  • The decline in activity levels with increased age remains more pronounced for girls than boys. 81% of girls aged 5-7 met the guideline, compared with 51% of those aged 13-15. The equivalent figures for boys were 86% and 68%, respectively.
  • In 2013, two-thirds (67%) of children aged 2-15 participated in sport or exercise in the week prior to interview (71% of boys and 63% of girls). For boys, this marked a halt to the recent decline in participation. For girls, the downward trend, evident since 2009 (70%), continued in 2013 (63%).

Adult activity levels

  • In 2013, 64% of adults met the guideline to do at least 150 minutes moderate or 75 minutes vigorous activity over a week. One in five (21%) did fewer than 30 minutes of moderate or 15 minutes vigorous activity per week.
  • Men remain significantly more likely than women to meet the guideline on aerobic activity (71%, compared with 58% of women). Between 2012 and 2013 the proportion of men meeting the guideline increased significantly from 67% to 71%. Adherence among women was 58% in both years.
  • As seen in earlier years, activity levels are significantly associated with age, with older people least likely to meet the guideline on aerobic activity .Twenty-six percent of those aged 75 and over were active at the recommended level, compared with 79% of those aged 16-34 and 71% of those aged 35-54.
  • Around a quarter (27%) of adults (31% of men and 23% of women) performed muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days a week in 2013. This declined with age, from 47% of those aged 16-24 to 6% of those aged 75 or above.

Knowledge of guidelines on adult and child activity

  • In 2013, just 4% of adults knew that the government advised at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Most (77%) overestimated what was advised, while 19% underestimated the guidance.
  • Adults with very low activity levels (less than half an hour a week of moderate physical activity, or equivalent) were more likely than those with higher activity levels to underestimate the guideline (29%, compared with 16-19%).
  • Knowledge of the children's guideline (at least 60 minutes every day) was higher. Around a quarter (26%) of parents of children aged 5-12 knew the recommended level of activity for children, as did a similar proportion (24%) of children aged 13-15. Most who did not know the guideline overestimated it.

6.1 INTRODUCTION

The health benefits of a physically active lifestyle are well documented. A person who is active on a regular basis is at reduced risk of chronic conditions of particular concern in Scotland, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.[1] The benefits of being regularly active extend beyond physical health, with evidence that increased activity can also improve mental wellbeing, another key health priority in Scotland.[2] Exercise is now recommended by The Royal College of Psychiatrists as a treatment for depression in adults[3], and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) national clinical guideline for non-pharmaceutical management of depression states that structured exercise programmes may be an option for depressed people.[4] Among older people, physical activity is associated with better health and cognitive function and can reduce the risk of falls in those with mobility problems.[5],[6]

High activity levels in childhood provide both immediate and longer-term benefits, for example by promoting cognitive skills and bone strength, reducing the incidence of metabolic risk factors such as obesity and hypertension, and setting in place activity habits that endure into adulthood.[7]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated, in 2008, that 3.2 million deaths per year could be attributed to low physical activity levels.[8] It is estimated that in Scotland low activity contributes to around 2,500 deaths per year and costs the National Health Service £94 million annually.[9]

6.1.1 Policy background

Helping more people be more active, more often is an over-arching policy objective of the Scottish Government. This commitment is reflected in the addition of a National Indicator to 'increase physical activity' to the National Performance Framework in 2012.[10] Data from the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) is used to monitor indicator performance. An Active Scotland Outcomes Framework is being collaboratively developed through the National Strategic Group for Sport and Physical Activity. The framework, which will be published as a web resource imminently, relies on the Scottish Health Survey for many of its indicators.

In addition, information on physical and sedentary activity collected during the survey interview is used to inform some of the intermediate-term indicators used to monitor the progress of the Obesity Route Map[11].

The Scottish Government have committed an annual investment of £3 million to increase the activity levels of those furthest away from meeting the guidelines - teenage girls and older adults. While the Active Scotland web portal, developed by NHS Health Scotland, helps physical activity staff and health professionals signpost the public to physical activity opportunities.[12]

In addition to the annual funding to boost teenage girls' activity, other key initiatives to tackle inactivity among children and young people include the Active Schools network which aims to increase the number of sporting opportunities available to children and young people.[13] Alongside this, is the Sport Strategy for Children and Young People which aims to boost physical activity and participation and make sport as accessible and enjoyable as possible.[14]

Several programmes to increase physical activity have been designed to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, as part of the Legacy 2014 initiative.[15] Progress on legacy outcomes is being tracked via Assessing Legacy 2014.[16] A prospective assessment on the potential for the Games and related legacy programmes for physical activity is set out in the Legacy Evaluation Pre Games Report.[17] Again, Scottish Health Survey data is being used to monitor several of the Active Outcome Indicators on activity levels and awareness of the recommendations on physical activity.

The key national legacy programme designed to influence population levels of activity in adults and children is the national Physical Activity Implementation Plan: A More Active Scotland[18]. The PAIP is a new 10 year plan which adapts the key elements of the 2010 Toronto Charter for Physical Activity to Scotland, and links this directly to the Scottish Government's legacy ambitions for the Commonwealth Games.[19] The Toronto charter was developed following extensive worldwide expert consultation and makes the case for increased action and greater investment on physical activity for health, environmental, economic and other wider outcomes.

The Plan represents Scotland's long term physical activity implementation policy. It adapts the Toronto Charter's seven best investments that work to promote physical activity and presents these in the Scottish context under five delivery themes: environment, workplace settings, healthcare settings, education settings and sport and active recreation. The data presented below demonstrate the importance of walking for physical activity, and one of the first milestones of the PAIP is the recent National Walking Strategy.[20]

6.1.2 Guidelines on physical activity

In July 2011, drawing on recent evidence about activity and health, the Chief Medical Officers of each of the four UK countries agreed and introduced revised guidelines on physical activity. The revisions followed new guidance issued by the WHO and are in line with similar changes recently made to advice on activity levels in both the USA and Canada. The new guidance, tailored to specific age groups over the life course, is as follows:

Table 6A UK CMOs' physical activity guidelines

Age group

Guidelines

Early years - children under 5 years

  • Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments.
  • Children capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.
  • Minimise amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).

Children and young people aged 5 to 18

  • Should engage in moderate to vigorous activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.
  • Vigorous activities, including those that strengthen muscles and bones, should be carried out on at least 3 days a week.
  • Extended periods of sedentary activities should be limited.
  • Should be active daily.

Adults aged 19-64

  • Should engage in at least moderate activity for a minimum of 150 minutes a week (accumulated in bouts of at least 10 minutes) - for example by being active for 30 minutes on five days a week.
  • Alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous activity spread across the week will confer similar benefits to 150 minutes of moderate activity (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).
  • Activities that strengthen muscles should be carried out on at least two days a week.
  • Extended periods of sedentary activities should be limited.

Adults aged 65 and over

  • In addition to the guidance for adults aged 19-64, older adults are advised that any amount of physical activity is better than none, and more activity provides greater health benefits.
  • Older adults at risk of falls should incorporate activities to improve balance and coordination on at least two days a week.

6.1.3 Reporting on physical activity in the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS)

Adult adherence to the new guideline on moderate/ vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in 2013 is presented in this chapter along with the adherence to the guidance on doing muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. Trends in child physical activity, both including and excluding school-based activities are also presented and the trend in child participation in sports and exercise has also been updated. New questions designed to assess awareness of the new guidelines were introduced to the survey in 2013 and the findings are presented here. Knowledge of the guidelines by self-reported activity levels is also explored in this chapter. Supplementary tables on physical activity are available on the survey website.[21]

6.2 METHODS AND DEFINITIONS

6.2.1 Adult physical activity questionnaire

The SHeS questionnaire[22] asks about four main types of physical activity:

  • Home-based activities (housework, gardening, building work and DIY)
  • Walking
  • Sports and exercise, and
  • Activity at work.

Information is collected on the:

  • time spent being active
  • intensity of the activities undertaken, and
  • frequency with which activities are performed.

6.2.2 Adherence to adult physical activity guidelines

Monitoring adherence to the revised guidelines (discussed in Section 6.1.2) required several changes to be made to the SHeS physical activity questions in 2012. Details of the exact amendments made to the module, and fuller details of the information collected about physical activity, are outlined in the 2012 SHeS annual report.[23]

The current activity guidelines advise adults to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. This guideline is referred to throughout this chapter as the MVPA guideline (Moderate or Vigorous Physical Activity). To help assess adherence to this guideline, the intensity level of activities mentioned by participants was estimated. Activities of low intensity, and activities of less than 10 minutes duration, were not included in the assessment. This allowed the calculation of a measure of whether each SHeS participant adhered to the guideline, referred to in the text and tables as "adult summary activity levels". A more detailed discussion of this calculation is provided in the 2012 report.[23]

Table 6B Adult summary activity levelsa

Meets MVPA guidelines

Reported 150 mins/week of moderate physical activity, 75 mins vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of these.

Some activity

Reported 60-149 mins/week of moderate physical activity, 30-74 mins/week vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of these.

Low activity

Reported 30-59 mins/week of moderate physical activity, 15-29 mins/week vigorous physical activity or an equivalent combination of these.

Very low activity

Reported less than 30 mins/week of moderate physical activity, less than 15 mins/week vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of these.

a Only bouts of 10 minutes or more were included towards the 150 minutes per week guideline

To avoid overcomplicating the text, where descriptions are provided of the summary activity levels, they tend to refer only to moderate physical activity, although the calculations were based on moderate or vigorous activity as described above.

A second summary measure was calculated for adults, in respect of meeting the guideline to carry out activities that strengthen muscles on at least 2 days a week to increase bone strength and muscular fitness. Nine different sports were classed as always muscle strengthening, and other sports or exercises were classed as muscle strengthening if the participant reported that the effort was enough to make the muscles feel some tension, shake or feel warm. If the participant carried out such activities for at least 10 minutes on 2 or more days a week, on average, they were deemed to meet the muscle strengthening guideline.

6.2.3 Child physical activity questionnaire

The questions on child physical activity are slightly less detailed than those for adults.[24] No information on intensity is collected (with the exception of asking those aged 13-15 about their walking pace). The questions cover:

  • Sports and exercise
  • Active play
  • Walking, and
  • Housework or gardening (children aged 8 and over only).

Since 2008, children at school have also been asked about any active things they have done as part of lessons (using the same format of questions as for all other activity types). Full details of all the information collected was provided in the 2012 report.[23]

6.2.4 Adherence to child physical activity guideline

For the purposes of calculating physical activity levels, it was assumed that all reported activities were of at least moderate intensity. Data on each of the different activities have been summarised to provide an overall measure of child physical activity. This summary measure takes into account both the average time spent participating in physical activity, and the number of active days in the last week. A child's level of physical activity was assigned to one of three categories:

Table 6C Child summary activity levels

Meets guideline

Active for at least 60 minutes on 7 days in last week

Some activity

Active for 30 to 59 minutes on 7 days in last week

Low activity

Active on fewer than 7 days in last week or for less than 30 minutes a day

6.2.5 Knowledge of the physical activity guidelines

As part of the paper self-completion questionnaire administered at the end of the survey interview, all participants aged 20 and above were asked:

"The government advises people to spend a certain amount of time doing moderate physical activity to help them stay healthy. This includes brisk walking, heavy gardening or any other activity that makes you breathe slightly faster than usual.

How much time per week do you think people your age are advised to spend doing this?"

Those aged 13 to 19 were asked:[25]

"How much time per day do you think people your age are advised to spend doing this?"

Parents of children aged 4-12 were also asked a similar question about the guideline for children aged 5-18, and if they had a child aged under 5, about the guideline for pre-school children.[26]

Four measures of knowledge of the guidelines were constructed, one for parents' knowledge of the pre-school guidance (not reported here due to small sample sizes), one for parents' knowledge of the child guidance, one for those aged 13 to 18, and one for those aged 19 and above.[25]

These questions are not comparable with those included in the survey between 2008 and 2011 since both the wording used and the mode of administration differed.

6.3 CHILD PHYSICAL ACTIVITY LEVELS

6.3.1 Trends in summary physical activity levels for children since 1998

Information on children's physical activity has been collected in SHeS since 1998, with data on activity done while at school included since 2008. Trends for the proportion of children aged 2-15 meeting the government guideline of at least 60 minutes of activity every day of the week, including and excluding activity at school, are presented in Table 6.1 and Figure 6A.

When school-based activity was excluded, the percentage of children active at the recommended level ranged from 62% to 69% between 1998 and 2013, with the 2012 figure a possible outlier within the overall trend. While the increase in activity levels observed between 2012 and 2013 (from 62% to 67%) was statistically significant, the longer term trend has been relatively stable (65% in 1998 and 67% in 2013).

Since 2008, the percentage of children meeting the guideline has always been 7 or 8 percentage points higher when activity at school is taken into account. In 2013, when school-based activity was included, three quarters (75%) of children were active for at least 60 minutes each day of the week, a significant increase on the figure for 2008 and 2009 (71%). As with the trends that exclude school-based activity, 2012 appears to be an outlier. The 2014 figures will help to assess if this is the case.

The percentage of boys aged 2-15 active at the recommended level, excluding school-based activities, has fluctuated between 66% and 72% with no obvious pattern since 2008. A similar trend was observed when school-based activities were included, with the percentage active at the recommended level similar in 2008 and 2013 (77% and 78%, respectively).

Trends in girls' activity levels have been somewhat clearer, particularly when school-based activities are included. Between 2008 and 2013, the percentage of girls aged 2-15 active for at least 60 minutes each day, including school activities, increased by 8 percentage points, from 64% to 72% (its highest level). Girls' activity levels were subject to more fluctuation when school-based activity was excluded, particularly in the earlier years of the series. Since 2008, however, and with the exception of the possible outlier in 2012, adherence to the guideline when school activities were excluded also steadily increased (to 64% in 2013). Though note that this latest increase returns girls' activity to 2003 levels (63%).

These differing trends have resulted in a narrowing of the gap between activity levels for boys and girls, from 13 percentage points in 2008 to between 5 and 6 percentage points since 2010 (78% of boys and 72% of girls met the guideline in 2013 when school-based activity was included). Figure 6A, Table 6.1

Figure 6A Percentage of children (aged 2-15) who met the physical activity guidelines (60 minutes per day, 7 days a week), 1998-2013

6.3.2 Physical activity levels in children in 2013, by age and sex

Boys were significantly more likely than girls to meet the guideline in 2013 irrespective of whether or not school-based activities were included in the estimate. Seventy-eight percent of boys were active for at least 60 minutes each day, including school activities, compared with 72% of girls. Activity levels varied significantly by age, for both boys and girls. For example, when school-based activity was included, the proportion of boys meeting the physical activity guideline was highest for those aged 5-7 (86%), adherence then declined steadily with increased age, to 68% for boys aged 13-15.

The difference between the activity levels of boys and girls was largely explained by significantly lower levels among girls aged 2-4 and 13-15 compared with boys of the same ages. Only 51% of girls aged 13-15 were active for at least 60 minutes each day of the week (including school activities), compared with 68% of boys of the same age, a gap of seventeen percentage points. A similar gap was observed when school-based activity was excluded. Hence it is activity outside of school which is significantly lower for girls than boys of this age.

As illustrated in Figure 6C, and discussed in previous SHeS reports,[23] activity levels outwith school declined with increased age for girls. Around three quarters (77%) of girls aged 5-7 met the guideline, but by age 13-15 adherence had declined to 38%. However, when school-based activity is included, adherence to the guideline was at above 73% for all girls except those aged 13-15. These associations with age highlight the importance of school-based activity for girls, but also demonstrate that it cannot fully compensate for the lower activity levels among older girls. Figure 6B, Figure 6C, Table 6.2

Figure 6B Percentage of boys meeting the physical activity guideline of at least 60 minutes every day of the week, 2013, by age

Figure 6C Percentage of girls meeting the physical activity guideline of at least 60 minutes every day of the week, 2013, by age

6.3.3 Trends in sports and exercise participation among children since 1998

In the 2012 report it was noted that the proportion of children aged 2-15 participating in sports and exercise had declined in recent years, from 73% in 2009 to 66% in 2012.[23] In 2013, 67% of children participated in sport in the week prior to interview, significantly lower than in 2009, but similar to participation levels in 2012.

In 2013 the decline in sports and exercise participation continued for girls but not for boys. Seventy-one percent of boys participated in the previous week in 2013, similar to the level in 1998 (72%). The four percentage point increase in participation between 2012 and 2013, from 67% to 71%, was not statistically significant.

Girls' participation in sport and exercise was at its highest level in 2009 (70%), and has gradually declined since then to 63% in 2013. While participation was at its lowest in 2013, levels were not significantly different to those seen in 1998 (65%). The decline in sports and exercise participation is in contrast to the finding, discussed in Section 6.3.1, that girls' adherence to the physical activity guideline was at its highest level in 2013, suggesting that the increased activity levels among girls has not been driven by increased participation in sports and exercise. Figure 6D, Table 6.3

Figure 6D Percentage of children aged 2-15 who participated in sports and exercise in the previous week, 1998-2012, by sex

6.4 ADULT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY LEVELS

6.4.1 Summary adult physical activity levels, and adherence to the aerobic activity guideline in 2013, by age and sex

In 2013, nearly two thirds (64%) of adults met the guideline on moderate or vigorous physical activity (MVPA) of at least 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week, or an equivalent combination of the two.

Men were significantly more likely than women to meet this guideline in 2013 (71% and 58%, respectively). Between 2012 and 2013, the proportion of men meeting the guideline increased significantly from 67% to 71%. Since 2013 was only the second year that adherence to the revised guidelines was monitored, future years of data will be required to determine whether this is the beginning of a trend in increased activity levels for men. Adherence to the MVPA guideline did not change for women between 2012 and 2013 (58% in both years).

Table 6D Adherence to the MVPAa guideline,

Men

Women

All

%

%

%

2012

67

58

62

2013

71

58

64

a Meets moderate/vigorous physical activity guideline of 150 minutes of moderate, 75 minutes vigorous, or combination of both each week

Activity levels were significantly associated with age for both men and women, with younger adults more likely than those in older age groups to meet the MVPA guidelines. For example, 79% of those aged 16-34 and 71% of those aged 35-54 were active at the recommended level, compared with 26% of those aged 75 and above. Across all age groups, men were more likely than women to meet the guideline and this was most apparent among the youngest and oldest age groups: 88% of men aged 16-24 met the guidelines, compared with 70% of women of the same age; and 36% of men aged 75 or above met the guidelines, compared with 19% of women of that age.

Figure 6E Adult summary activity levels, 2013, by age

In 2013, around one in ten (11%) adults did some activity, defined as between 60 and 149 minutes of moderate activity or between 30 and 74 minutes of vigorous activity over seven days, while 4% had low activity levels. One in five (21%) adults had very low activity levels in 2013, doing less than half an hour a week of moderate activity or the equivalent level of vigorous activity. Women were more likely than men to have very low activity levels (23% and 18% respectively) and the percentage active at only very low levels increased with age for both sexes. For example, more than half (57%) of those aged 75 or above did less than 30 minutes of moderate activity or 15 minutes of vigorous activity over a week, compared with one in ten (10%) of those aged 16-24. Figure 6E, Table 6.4

6.4.2 Adherence to the muscle strengthening guideline in 2013, by age and sex

In addition to the guideline on moderate or vigorous physical activity (MVPA), the government also advises that adults should perform muscle strengthening activities on at least two days over the course of a week. At 27% in 2013, adherence to this guideline was much lower than adherence to the guideline on moderate or vigorous activity.

As with the MVPA guideline, men were more likely than women to perform muscle strengthening activities at the recommended level (31% and 23%, respectively). Adherence also declined with age for both men and women, from 47% of those aged 16-24, to just 6% of those aged 75 and above. The gap between men and women's adherence was most evident among younger people, with 55% of men aged 16-24 meeting the guidelines, compared with 39% of women of the same age. Table 6.5

6.4.3 Adherence to the aerobic activity and muscle strengthening guidelines in 2013, by age and sex

It is also possible, from Table 6.5, to identify those adults following both the MVPA guideline and the muscle-strengthening guideline, those who followed just one of the guidelines, and those that followed neither. As was the case in 2012, most people who met the muscle strengthening guideline also met the MVPA guideline (26% met both while just 1% met the muscle strengthening guideline only). A further 39% met the MVPA guideline but not the muscle strengthening guideline while just over a third (35%) of adults met neither guideline in 2013. Table 6.5

65 KNOWLEDGE OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY GUIDELINES

6.5.1 Adults' knowledge of physical activity guideline in 2013, by age and sex

New questions designed to measure knowledge of the revised physical activity guidelines were introduced to the survey in 2013. Just 4% of adults aged 19 or above knew that the government recommended that they carry out at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. By comparison, in the years 2008-2011 combined, 10% of adults were aware of the guideline in place at the time to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day on five days a week (data not shown). It is important, however, to note that both the question wording and the mode of administration changed in 2013 so these results are not directly comparable.

The majority (77%) of adults overestimated the amount of moderate activity advised by the government, while one in five (19%) underestimated what is recommended. While not directly comparable, it is worth noting that the proportions underestimating and overestimating the old guideline in 2008-2011 were roughly the same (data not shown).[27]

Knowledge of the moderate physical activity guideline did not vary significantly between men and women (4% of men and 5% of women correctly identified the guideline) or by age (varying between 2% and 6%). Older people were, however, most likely to underestimate the recommended level of moderate activity. For example, 25% of those aged 65-74, and 31% of those aged 75 and above underestimated the level of activity advised, compared with 14-19% of those aged under 65. In contrast, those aged 19-24 were the most likely to overestimate the guideline (84% of those aged 19-24, compared with 70% and 65% for those aged 65-75, and 75 and over, respectively). Table 6.6

6.5.2 Adults' knowledge of physical activity guidelines in 2013, by adult physical activity levels and sex

It is also possible to examine knowledge of the physical activity guideline by people's self-reported activity level (Table 6.7). Those with the lowest activity levels were most likely to underestimate the amount of moderate activity advised (29%). In contrast, between 16% and 19% of those who did more than half an hour of moderate physical activity a week underestimated the guideline. This is perhaps not surprising, given that older people were most likely to underestimate the guideline and were also least active (see Sections 6.4.1 and 6.5.1).

Those who did at least an hour's moderate physical activity a week, but not enough to meet the recommendations, were most likely to provide a correct estimate of the recommendations. Eight percent of this group correctly estimated 150 minutes a week, compared with 4% of those who met the recommendations, and 3% of those who did less than an hour a week. Figure 6F, Table 6.7

Figure 6F Adult knowledge of moderate activity guideline, 2013, by summary activity level

6.5.3 Parents' and children's knowledge of physical activity guidelines in 2013, by age and sex

Parents of children aged between 5 and 12 were asked what they thought the recommended amount of daily activity was for their child. Children and young adults aged between 13 and 18 were asked directly to estimate what level of activity was recommended for someone of their age. Both questions were included in the paper self-completion part of the interview.

Around a quarter (26%) of parents of children aged between 5 and 12 knew that their child should do at least 60 minutes of activity each day of the week. A similar proportion (24%) of children aged 13-15 knew the level of activity they were advised to do. Knowledge of the guideline was slightly higher among those aged 16-18, with 34% correctly estimating their recommended level of activity. The most common response across all age categories was to over-estimate the level of activity recommended. Differences according to the sex of the child or young adult were not significant. Table 6.8

6.5.4 Parents' and children's knowledge of physical activity guidelines in 2013, by children's physical activity levels and sex

Table 6.9 shows that parents of children aged between 5 and 12 who met the guideline were more likely than parents whose children did not meet the guideline to overestimate the level of activity recommended (68% and 62%, respectively). In contrast, those with a child who fell short of the guideline were more likely to underestimate what was advised (15% compared with 6% of those with a child that met the guideline).

Although knowledge of the guideline among those aged 13-15 did not differ significantly from the parental estimates for younger children, knowledge varied by older children's own activity levels. Those who were active for at least 60 minutes each day of the week were significantly more likely than those who were less active than this to overestimate the recommended level of activity for their age group (70% and 53%, respectively). Figure 6G, Table 6.9

Figure 6G Parents' and children's knowledge of child physical activity guideline, 2013, by child summary activity level

Table list

Table 6.1 Proportion of children meeting physical activity guideline, (including and excluding school), 1998 to 2013
Table 6.2 Proportion of children meeting physical activity guideline, (including and excluding school), 2013, by age and sex
Table 6.3 Proportion of children participating in sport, 1998 to 2013
Table 6.4 Adult summary activity levels, 2013, by age and sex
Table 6.5 Adult adherence to muscle strengthening and MVPA guidelines, adults, 2013, by age and sex
Table 6.6 Adults' knowledge of aerobic activity guideline, 2013, by age and sex
Table 6.7 Adults' knowledge of aerobic activity guideline, 2013, by summary activity level
Table 6.8 Parents' and children's knowledge of child physical activity recommendations, 2013, by age
Table 6.9 Parents' and children's knowledge of child physical activity recommendations, 2013, by child summary activity level and age

Additional tables available on the survey website include:

  • Physical activity at work, by age & key demographics
  • Adult summary activity levels, by age & key demographics
  • Adult adherence to guidelines on aerobic & muscle strengthening activities, by age & key demographics
  • Adult sport participation, by age & key demographics
  • Adult weekday & weekend sedentary leisure time, by age & key demographics
  • Reasons for exercise (adults), by age & key demographics
  • Reasons for not exercising, not exercising more (adults), by age & key demographics
  • Child sport participation, by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: days last week 15+min brisk walk, by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: days last week 15+min housework/gardening, by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: days last week 15+min and 30+min active play or sport, by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: days last week any physical activities, by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: days last week 15+ total activities, by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: minutes/day and mean minutes/day spent on all activities (no lower limit), by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: minutes/day and mean minutes/day spent on all activities (no lower limit) including school (grouped), by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: summary classification 15+min activity levels, by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: summary classification 15+min activity levels, by age & key demographics
  • Child activity: summary classification activity levels - all activities (no lower limits) excluding & including school, by age & key demographics

Table 6.1 Proportion of children meeting physical activity guideline, (including and excluding school), 1998 to 2013

Aged 2 - 15

1998 to 2013

Proportion meeting guidelinea

1998

2003

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Boys

Excluding activity at school

72

74

72

69

68

69

66

70

Including activity at school

n/a

n/a

77

75

75

76

73

78

Girls

Excluding activity at school

59

63

56

58

62

62

58

64

Including activity at school

n/a

n/a

64

66

70

70

68

72

All Children

Excluding activity at school

65

69

64

64

65

65

62

67

Including activity at school

n/a

n/a

71

71

72

73

70

75

Bases (weighted):

Boys

1088

1478

776

1142

784

867

791

825

Girls

1032

1424

721

1096

743

830

748

777

All children

2120

2903

1497

2237

1527

1697

1539

1602

Bases (unweighted):

Boys

1972

1428

750

1142

811

841

753

815

Girls

1881

1444

737

1085

694

826

774

753

All children

3853

2872

1487

2227

1505

1667

1527

1568

a Physically active for at least 60 minutes on all 7 days per week

Table 6.2 Proportion of children meeting physical activity guideline, (including and excluding school), 2013, by age and sex

Aged 2 - 15

2013

Proportion meeting guidelinea

Age

Total

2-4

5-7

8-10

11-12

13-15

%

%

%

%

%

%

Boys

Excluding activity at school

80

76

73

66

54

70

Including activity at school

80

86

81

76

68

78

Girls

Excluding activity at school

73

77

70

58

38

64

Including activity at school

73

81

78

76

51

72

All Children

Excluding activity at school

77

76

72

62

46

67

Including activity at school

77

83

79

76

60

75

Bases (weighted):

Boys

191

169

197

100

168

825

Girls

178

169

175

104

151

777

All children

369

338

372

204

319

1602

Bases (unweighted):

Boys

209

174

191

85

156

815

Girls

205

172

158

87

131

753

All children

414

346

349

172

287

1568

a Physically active for at least 60 minutes on all 7 days per week

Table 6.3 Proportion of children participating in sport, 1998 to 2013

Aged 2 - 15

1998 to 2013

Participation in any sport during last week

1998

2003

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Boys

Yes

72

74

74

76

73

72

67

71

No

28

26

26

24

27

28

33

29

Girls

Yes

65

69

67

70

67

67

65

63

No

35

31

33

30

33

33

35

37

All Children

Yes

69

72

71

73

70

69

66

67

No

31

28

29

27

30

31

34

33

Bases (weighted):

Boys

1096

1514

790

1155

794

878

802

830

Girls

1046

1448

736

1110

763

838

759

788

All children

2142

2961

1526

2265

1556

1716

1561

1617

Bases (unweighted):

Boys

1987

1462

763

1156

823

853

763

819

Girls

1905

1467

752

1102

711

835

784

762

All children

3892

2929

1515

2258

1534

1688

1547

1581

Table 6.4 Adult summary activity levels, 2013, by age and sex

Aged 16 and over

2013

Summary activity levela

Age

Total

16-24b

25-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65-74

75+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Men

Meets MVPA guidelines

88

84

74

76

61

54

36

71

Some activity

4

8

9

6

8

12

11

8

Low activity

1

2

3

5

6

3

3

3

Very low activity

7

6

14

13

25

31

50

18

Women

Meets MVPA guidelines

70

73

69

66

49

46

19

58

Some activity

14

12

14

12

16

16

12

14

Low activity

3

4

4

3

6

6

7

5

Very low activity

13

10

14

18

28

32

62

23

All Adults

Meets MVPA guidelines

79

79

71

71

55

50

26

64

Some activity

9

10

12

9

12

14

12

11

Low activity

2

3

3

4

6

5

5

4

Very low activity

10

8

14

16

27

32

57

21

Bases (weighted):

Men

338

367

386

435

366

268

176

2336

Women

333

388

410

462

380

303

265

2542

All adults

671

756

796

897

747

571

441

4878

Bases (unweighted):

Men

206

310

337

392

353

317

214

2129

Women

241

417

431

539

440

373

306

2747

All adults

447

727

768

931

793

690

520

4876

a Meets moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA) guidelines: at least 150 minutes of moderately intensive physical activity or 75 minutes vigorous activity per week or an equivalent combination of both. Some activity: 60-149 minutes of moderate activity or / 30-74 minutes of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of these. Low activity: 30-59 minutes of moderate activity or 15-29 minutes of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of these. Very low activity: Less than 30 minutes of moderate activity or less than 15 minutes of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of these
b Physical activity guidelines for those aged 16-18 are at least one hour of moderate or vigorous activity each day. As SHeS participants of that age were given the adult questionnaire, which does not ask separately about each day, they have been included in this table assessed against the adult criteria

Table 6.5 Adult adherence to muscle strengthening and MVPA guidelines, 2013, by age and sex

Aged 16 and over

2013

Proportion meeting guidelinesa

Age

Total

16-24b

25-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65-74

75+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Men

Meets MVPA & muscle guidelines

54

46

32

28

17

13

7

30

Meets MVPA guidelines only

34

38

42

48

44

41

29

41

Meets muscle guideline only

1

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

Meets neither guideline

11

15

26

23

38

45

63

29

Total meeting muscle guideline

55

46

32

28

18

13

8

31

Women

Meets MVPA & muscle guidelines

36

34

25

19

14

12

4

21

Meets MVPA guidelines only

34

39

44

47

35

34

16

37

Meets muscle guideline only

2

1

2

1

1

1

1

1

Meets neither guideline

27

26

29

33

50

53

80

40

Total meeting muscle guideline

39

35

27

20

15

13

5

23

All Adults

Meets MVPA & muscle guidelines

45

40

28

24

16

12

5

26

Meets MVPA guidelines only

34

39

43

48

39

38

21

39

Meets muscle guideline only

2

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

Meets neither guideline

19

21

28

28

44

49

73

35

Total meeting muscle guideline

47

40

29

24

17

13

6

27

Bases (weighted):

Men

338

367

386

435

366

268

176

2336

Women

333

388

410

462

380

303

265

2542

All adults

671

756

796

897

747

571

441

4878

Bases (unweighted):

Men

206

310

337

392

353

317

214

2129

Women

241

417

431

539

440

373

306

2747

All adults

447

727

768

931

793

690

520

4876

a Meets moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA) guidelines: At least 150 minutes of moderate activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week or an equivalent combination of these. Meets muscle guideline: carries out activities that strengthen muscles on at least two days per week
b Physical activity guidelines for those aged 16-18 are at least one hour of moderate or vigorous activity each day. As SHeS participants of that age were given the adult questionnaire, which does not ask separately about each day, they have been included in this table assessed against the adult criteria

Table 6.6 Adults' knowledge of aerobic physical activity guideline, 2013, by age and sex

Aged 19 and over

2013

Knowledge of aerobic activity guidelinea

Age

Total

19-24

25-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65-74

75+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Men

Underestimated guideline

14

19

20

18

17

26

29

19

Knew guideline

2

3

5

3

4

4

2

4

Overestimated guideline

84

79

74

79

79

70

69

77

Women

Underestimated guideline

14

15

17

16

19

24

33

18

Knew guideline

2

6

7

4

4

6

4

5

Overestimated guideline

84

80

76

80

77

70

63

77

All Adults

Underestimated guideline

14

17

19

17

18

25

31

19

Knew guideline

2

4

6

4

4

5

3

4

Overestimated guideline

84

79

75

79

78

70

65

77

Bases (weighted):

Men

163

324

333

370

291

202

107

1791

Women

198

348

376

401

320

217

148

2007

All adults

361

672

709

770

612

420

254

3798

Bases (unweighted):

Men

107

276

292

336

279

238

134

1662

Women

152

377

395

471

371

271

170

2207

All adults

259

653

687

807

650

509

304

3869

a The guideline is for adults to do at least 150 minutes of moderately intensive activity or at least 75 minute of vigorous activity per week, or an equivalent combination of these. The question asked respondents if they knew how much moderate intensity activity was recommended

Table 6.7 Adults' knowledge of moderate physical activity guideline, 2013, by summary activity level

Aged 19 and over

2013

Knowledge of aerobic activity guidelinea

Summary activity levelb

Very low activity

Low activity

Some activity

Meets guideline

Total

%

%

%

%

%

Men

Underestimated guideline

27

19

25

17

19

Knew guideline

3

4

7

3

4

Overestimated guideline

70

77

68

79

77

Women

Underestimated guideline

30

18

16

15

18

Knew guideline

4

3

8

5

5

Overestimated guideline

66

79

77

80

77

All Adults

Underestimated guideline

29

18

19

16

19

Knew guideline

3

3

8

4

4

Overestimated guideline

68

78

74

80

77

Bases (weighted):

Men

275

64

141

1306

1791

Women

390

92

278

1244

2007

All adults

665

156

419

2550

3798

Bases (unweighted):

Men

274

63

140

1180

1662

Women

446

102

305

1348

2207

All adults

720

165

445

2528

3869

a The guideline is for adults to do at least 150 minutes of moderately intensive activity or at least 75 minute of vigorous activity per week, or an equivalent combination of these. The question asked respondents if they knew how much moderate intensity activity was recommended

b Meets moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA) guidelines: at least 150 minutes of moderately intensive physical activity or 75 minutes vigorous activity per week or an equivalent combination of both. Some activity: 60-149 minutes of moderate activity or / 30-74 minutes of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of these. Low activity: 30-59 minutes of moderate activity or 15-29 minutes of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of these. Very low activity: Less than 30 minutes of moderate activity or less than 15 minutes of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of these

Table 6.8 Parents' and children's knowledge of child physical activity guideline, 2013, by age

Aged 5 - 18

2013

Knowledge of physical activity guideline for childrena

Age

Total

5-7b

8-10b

11-12b

5-12b

13 - 15c

16-18c

%

%

%

%

%

%

Boys

Underestimated guideline

10

8

7

8

10

[3]

Knew guideline

26

23

22

24

21

[39]

Overestimated guideline

64

69

71

68

69

[58]

Girls

Underestimated guideline

8

7

5

7

15

[0]

Knew guideline

29

31

21

28

28

[29]

Overestimated guideline

63

62

74

65

57

[70]

All children

Underestimated guideline

9

7

6

8

12

2

Knew guideline

28

27

21

26

24

34

Overestimated guideline

63

66

73

67

63

64

Bases (weighted):

Boys

146

178

86

411

151

70

Girls

148

161

101

410

129

74

All children

294

340

187

821

279

144

Bases (unweighted):

Boys

151

173

73

397

140

44

Girls

152

145

84

381

111

47

All children

303

318

157

778

251

91

a Physically active for at least 60 minutes on all 7 days per week
b For children in this age group a parent answered questions on behalf of the child
c Child / young adult in age group answered questions themselves

Table 6.9 Parents' and children's knowledge of physical activity guideline, 2013, by child summary activity levels and age

Aged 5 - 15

2013

Knowledge of physical activity guideline for childrena

Age

Total

5-7b

8-10b

11-12b

Total
5-12b

13 - 15c

%

%

%

%

%

%

Meets guideline including activity at school

Underestimated guideline

8

5

4

6

10

7

Knew guideline

27

28

21

26

20

25

Overestimated guideline

65

67

75

68

70

69

Does not meet guideline including activity at school

Underestimated guideline

14

18

[12]

15

16

16

Knew guideline

30

20

[21]

23

31

26

Overestimated guideline

57

62

[67]

62

53

58

Bases (weighted):

Meets guideline

243

268

142

653

169

822

Does not meet guideline

49

68

41

158

111

269

Bases (unweighted):

Meets guideline

252

252

120

624

155

779

Does not meet guideline

50

63

34

147

96

243

a Physically active for at least 60 minutes on all 7 days per week
b Response from parent of child in age group
c Response from child in age group

Contact

Email: Julie Landsberg

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